Spring Clean Your Home’s Exterior Inexpensively
by Andrea Norris-McKnight
Cleaning the winter grime from the outside of your home will likely require a weekend or two of work, but these inexpensive tasks can save you in future repair bills.
According to The Washington Post, spring cleaning was traditionally the biggest house cleaning event of the year during the 1800s. The means they had then of heating homes resulted in layers of soot and grime in every room of the house and required a good cleaning at the end of each winter.
Today, many of us carry on this annual spring tradition of thoroughly cleaning every room of our home.
But what about the outside of the house? Doesn’t it too deserve a good annual cleaning?
Here is a list of exterior spring cleaning tasks you might consider tackling. Most will require a bit of elbow grease, but none should require a big outlay of cash. And some could save you some cash by preventing or delaying future repair bills!
Cleaning gutters is certainly not a fun job, but ignoring the debris that accumulates over the winter can lead to costly repairs to your roofing, siding, or even the foundation of your home.
If you can safely reach your gutters, you can remove small debris by hand, use a leaf blower or wet/dry vac, or invest in an inexpensive gutter cleaning tool to clear it out. Once the bigger stuff is removed, flush the gutters with water using a garden hose.
And if you can’t clean your own gutters? Find it in your budget to pay someone to do it for you. Regular gutter cleanings will be far cheaper than repairs.
Related: Affordable Gutter Cleaning Options
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Wouldn’t you like to let that spring sunshine and cool breeze into your home now that cold temperatures are gone? If so, you’ll want to clean the winter grime off the outside of those windows and window screens.
Gently remove all screens from your windows and spray them down with a hose. Use a diluted vinegar solution to gently scrub the screens clean and then rinse once again with the hose. Allow them to dry in the sun while you clean the windows.
Use microfiber cloths to clean the windows you can reach or a mop to clean higher windows. You’ll need nothing more than a bucket of water and some liquid dish soap to remove most of the grime. Then use that diluted vinegar solution or a commercial cleaner to make those windows shine. For stubborn spots, allow the vinegar mixture to soak into the grime for a few minutes before trying to clean it away. A squeegee is most effective for removing the water from windows, but newspaper works well, too. Once everything is dry, replace your window screens.
If your screens have gotten any rips or tears over the winter, you can find simple DIY screen repair steps online and inexpensively patch or mend screens yourself. This will help ensure insects stay outside when your windows are open.
By keeping your home’s siding in good condition, you will prolong its life, and a clean and well-kept exterior increases the value of your home. But before you start cleaning, be sure to do a bit of research on the best tools and cleaners for your type of siding so you don’t end up damaging it.
For instance, a garden sprayer is much safer for cleaning wood siding than using a pressure washer. And if you need to use a bleach solution to remove mildew from your siding, oxygen bleach won’t kill your plants and grass along with the mildew.
Related: Do-It-Yourself Home Siding Cleaning
Driveways and Sidewalks
A pressure washer is the most effective way to spray the dirt and grime from your concrete driveways and sidewalks, but a spray hose attachment can also do a fairly good job.
Wet down the driveway and then sprinkle it with powder dishwasher detergent. Use a long-handled scrub brush, such as a deck brush, to scrub the driveway surface and then rinse clean again with the hose. Pour Dawn® dish detergent on stubborn stains before scrubbing clean. Cat litter is useful for absorbing oil stains.
If you have plants or grass lining your driveway, try to rinse as much of the cleaner as possible down the driveway to the road instead of into your planters or grass.
You can clean concrete or tile patio flooring in the same manner as you did your driveway. Use a wet/dry vac to remove the excess water after cleaning.
Whether you stored your patio furniture over the winter or left it exposed to the elements, it likely could use a good cleaning. Simply hose it down and then scrub with a mixture of hot water and dish detergent. Use gloves to protect your hands. Apple cider vinegar makes for a useful degreaser for removing sap or other sticky substances. Outdoor cushions can be scrubbed with a diluted bleach solution or if you prefer, a mixture of hot water and dish detergent. Thoroughly rinse the cushions after washing and leave them in the sun to dry before replacing them.
If your patio is screened and has gotten any rips or tears over the winter, use the same DIY steps and tools to patch the patio screen as you did for your window screens.
Keeping your deck clean can help prevent damage from mildew and rot, as well as discourage termites. And preventing these conditions will keep your deck stable and safe for use.
Sweep off any loose debris and dirt. A putty knife is handy for prying out debris caught between deck boards. Then use a hose to spray the deck with water and wash off any remaining dirt. Use an oxygen bleach and water solution to scrub away any mildew forming on the deck. Be sure to thoroughly wash away the bleach solution.
Related: DIY Deck Clean-Up and Repair
Remove any plants, shrubs, or trees that did not survive the winter and have no hope of coming back, and trim or prune the survivors. This will typically allow your greenery to grow in fuller once it starts sprouting spring leaves. Then fill in any landscaping gaps with a few new perennials or shrubs. Finally, cover planter beds with a new layer of mulch to keep spring weeds at bay. See if your city or county has a site where you can pick up free mulch.
If heavy snow damaged your planters’ edging over the winter, do some online research to find an inexpensive border option that will better survive next winter.
Related: DIY Landscaping for Less
Should You Consider Renting a Pressure Washer?
You might find the easiest means of cleaning your home’s exterior is with a pressure washer. If you don’t feel it wise to invest in one, you can rent one at most home or hardware stores and they can be used to clean your windows, siding, driveways, sidewalks, and even patio furniture. You can also get a gutter attachment for the pressure washer to clean out those gutters.
Just make sure you educate yourself on the pressure settings and use of the pressure washer so you don’t damage your home or property in any way.
If you cannot perform many of these exterior spring cleaning tasks yourself, it might be cost-effective to hire someone to pressure wash your home’s exterior.
Related: 11 Ways to Save at Home Depot
Winter can dirty and dull your home’s exterior. Performing these spring cleaning tasks are a productive way to get outside and enjoy the spring weather. And your annual efforts will go a long way in keeping your exterior home repair costs to a minimum.
Reviewed February 2022
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